By Mike Russell
A Florida-based MMA fighter and former Marine who did three tours in Iraq was arrested and charged with seven criminal counts Monday in Coral Springs Florida in relation to a road rage incident that allegedly occurred yesterday afternoon.
A Sun Sentinal report states that 31-year-old Fernando Rodrigues was taken into custody after allegedly chasing down a motorist after becoming incensed that the driver took too long to go through an intersection. Catching up to the vehicle, which had pulled over so the driver could call the police, Rodrigues is alleged to have pistol whipped and pointed his handgun at the two male occupants of the vehicle before beating and kicking them at gunpoint while they lay on the shoulder of the road. According to the official police report charges against Rodrigues, who runs an American Top Team affiliated gym (and is not the founder of the revered fight camp as incorrectly stated in both the Sun Sentinal and NBC Miami stories today) include armed burglary, assault and battery with a weapon, three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.
Surprisingly, most of the assault and battery charges pertain not to attacks on the victims with the handgun he possessed at the time, but rather to the assault he inflicted on the driver and passenger of the other car with his hands and feet, which prosecutors successfully argued with the bail judge should be considered deadly weapons since he is a trained professional mixed martial artist. As a result, the 3-4-1 fighter was denied bail.
Steven Seagal might be soon put on a no-fly list given this dangerous precedent.
We spoke with actual American Top Team co-founder and main academy head coach Ricardo Liborio about the serious case today, and he expressed his dismay and concern over the incident and stressed that, contrary to the erroneous statement made by the prosecutor about his role with ATT, Fernandes does not fight under their banner, nor does he train under him. He is hopeful that although Fernandes’ facility was technically affiliated with his revered gym and the ATT brand, the unfortunate and appalling incident will not reflect poorly on his camp, as it shouldn’t.
“Fernando Rodrigues is NOT a co-founder of American Top Team, nor is he an American Top Team fighter,” Liborio clarified to CagePotato.com. “He has never fought for or represented American Top Team. His only involvement is an investor in an affiliated academy in Aventura, Florida.”
Ironically, during a conversation I had with Liborio last week about his ATT family for a piece for an upcoming issue of Fighters Only Magazine, the longtime trainer detailed how instilling the importance of honor and camaraderie in the athletes he trains, who he says he considers to be like his sons and daughters, is as important as teaching them how to fight and honing their combat skills.
Sadly, Fernandes never had the opportunity to experience the positive influence Liborio exudes over fighters like Thiago Alves and Jorge Masvidal among others, or we may not be reporting this unfortunate news today.
We’ll have more as the story develops.